I’m not LGBTQ, but I don’t Belong Either

https://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/voices/2019/08/18/churches-need-less-tradition-more-flexibility-welcome-teens-column/2011731001/

This article and others like it have been posted and talked about on my online and in person Catholic groups over and over again. There’s always a couple of people kindly talking about it and then the avalanche of more traditional Catholics who start mocking the author and saying, “Oh they just want the Church to be open to whatever, be ok with doing anything, anything goes, they just don’t like rules.” It’s so frustrating to me because they get so caught up on deciding that this girl is a sinner and therefore shouldn’t get to belong in the Church, in their eyes, that they forget that this girl is a PERSON, and God loves people.

Catholicism is not an exclusive club for the perfect people, though it is often treated that way. I think a lot of people like the idea that they are the people who are “right” they are “God’s people” and everyone else is wrong. There is something liberating to that, I get it, that makes you one of the ones making it through the narrow gate, as it says in Scripture, and “they” are the evil ones.

Let me just come forward now and say, I always felt like I didn’t belong. I wasn’t doing something wrong. I wasn’t a bad kid. I was a praying the rosary daily, offering it up, making sacrifices, going to Mass, and being kind kid, teenager, adult. I was M-I-S-E-R-A-B-L-E. I was terrified of doing something wrong and God would hate me, I was shunned in multiple Christian groups, once for a rumor because I quoted a sex joke on MySpace-so that all made all rumors about me true, once because I danced at Homecoming(no I didn’t grind but that’s what everyone thought), once because they thought I was on birth control, when I had really had miscarriages. I was HATED by the Church no matter how hard I tried to do things right.

I cannot tell you how many times I have raged about what a horrible place the Catholic Church is, and I am not one of the people who are just made because they don’t want to follow the rules. Stop blaming it on some public sin, or then not being good enough. The Church, as it stands right now, is not a welcoming place. There are Churches that are welcoming, there are a few groups that are welcoming, but they are few and far between and the hurt we are causing is monstrous.

The Church has a huge power, and that is to connect people with God, or to disconnect them from Him. My friends are falling away because they do not feel welcome or loved. I have wanted to fall away because I often do not feel welcome or loved. At my amazing Alma Mater, Ave Maria University, I met people who taught me that God is love, and He wants us unconditionally, and any rules He makes for us are to help us to live better lives. That God is a God who finds ways to heal people whether it is in Mass or not, He finds ways to help people, even if it’s a walk in nature. That is the God St. Paul talked about in Scripture when he talked about “easing burdens” for the people.

If it were not for that experience, and some that I am happy to be having right now, I would not be Catholic anymore. I would have run as far away from the Church as I can. Instead, I cling to what I can find of the God I recognize as a God of love, and I try to bring Him to others. I do not shame the people I know who have left because I have felt their pain, and I have seen how they have been hurt. And, for better or worse, I point out what the Church is doing wrong, because I pray and hope that one day Gods mercy and love will be what people think of when they think of the Church, and not anger and hate.

Mother Teresa, who ministered to all faiths, and saw the pain humanity is in, pray for us.

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Yes, The World Needs God, But Not Like That

A couple of weeks ago, there was a shooting in Texas that just devastated me. A couple days before I watched The Hate You Give, which rocked me as well. Both of these events are on the heels of, and preceding so many horrible tragedies and fearful events happening all over they world lately. I find myself desperate for God’s love to be present in our culture. However, I immediately feel guilty and annoyed at this sentiment, which then makes me feel guilty and annoyed for feeling guilty and annoyed at that. I caught myself thinking at one point, “The world just needs God,” and immediately rolled my eyes at myself. That phrase is one I have heard a thousand times, and it’s one that makes me instantly angry and I disagree with, even though I technically agree with the sentiment.

The problem with the phrase “The World Needs God” is that most people who use this phrase mean it in a very particular way. “The World Needs God” means that the world needs people who believe the same thing I believe, teach the way I teach. Mostly, what it really means is “the world needs people who follow all the rules I believe in.”

In my experience, the people who use this phrase are often the same ones who talk about how “the homosexuals are taking over” and they are going “ruin the family” or are hateful towards mothers who are thinking about abortion, or who are unkind to a woman because her skirt is one inch too short. What they mean by “The World Needs God” has nothing to do with who God is as a person, and everything to do with who they believe He demands every person to be. These are the same people who talk about how the Church is getting smaller and that’s a good thing because all the lukewarm people are being weeded out.

What I mean when I say “The World Needs God” is something very different than the above. What I mean when I say it, is that the world needs UNCONDITIONAL LOVE. The world needs a force of love and acceptance that heals wounds on contact. The world needs tenderness, thoughtfulness, kindness, respect, and love. The world needs something that is more powerful than itself that can radically help people suffering in an unkind world. When I say “The World Needs God” I mean it in a desperate plea for an outpouring of love and mercy that can heal the hurts that are far too big for any one person to heal.

I’ve had many eyes rolled at me for making this distinction. “Oh but rules are important too.” Sure. Yes. How we act is important. But what did Jesus do when He came? Did He come down and look for people doing wrong so He could make them feel bad about themselves every day? Do you think He would’ve been invited to dine with the sinners every night if He had? He talked to people about sin when they hurt others, or when they already knew what they needed to change. Far more than that, He worked miracles in their lives, He touched people, He was kind to people when no one else would be kind to them.

What would the world look like if Christians stopped talking about who doesn’t belong and who’s not good enough and started letting everyone know that God wants them? What if we looked for the abandoned and lonely and told them they were worthy? What if we healed people, touched people, embraced people? What if we were happier with a loud bustling Church than a quiet perfectly fine Mass?

I have seen churches where this happens and it changes everything.

So yes, the world needs God, but not a God who only shames every person who comes to Him. The world needs Jesus who loves people where they are at, and guides them tenderly to their best self.

Jaded

Ever since I grew to adulthood,

I hear the echoes

of everyone who told me,

“That’s not real.

That’s a fantasy.”

Most of the time, I silence them

With a wave of the hand,

And maybe a deep breath,

But then,

Sometimes, a wave of grief comes,

My heart begins to ask,

“Were they right?

Does God give us dreams to take them away?

Does He dangle hopes of a beautiful future,

Just to laugh when you are in pain?

There are times in my life when I believe them,

When the hope that God is listening grows as faint as a fading heartbeat,

The ache swells until my chest begins to cave into itself.

I cease to breathe in in terror of reality,

I force myself to breathe and anger overtakes me that God has turned His back.

But He hasn’t turned His back.

He is here when hundreds have told me He doesn’t hear me.

He is waiting for me when I can hear Him through the despair.

He hears me when I cry out in the pain of the skepticism that is our world.

Cast behind you the words of those who condemn you for belief in hope.

Cast behind you the belief that grief will win.

Cast behind you the grief that God doesn’t hear you,

And doesn’t love the real you.

There is a place for you.

Just because you haven’t found it doesn’t mean you won’t.

Use your wounds to heal others until you escape the chains,

And then free the slaves.

Sometimes God answers no, but not when it’s His promises to you.

If you are called to something, He will bring you to it somehow, I believe.

I believe.

I believe.

I believe.

Even here in the darkness.

I believe.

The Beauty of the Crucifixion

My entire life I have struggled with the Crucifixion. I could never wrap my mind around God allowing His Son to go through something like that. To be honest, I don’t see that fully going away anytime soon, the problem of evil is my biggest hang up in life, and even when I find an answer to satisfy me for a bit, there’s still this nagging frustration about it existing. However, I have this image of what Jesus was trying to do that comforts me a little about it.

The biggest part of my struggle is this idea that Jesus came down to get crucified on purpose. That idea just literally makes me nauseous. I can’t stand it. However, I’ve had this idea lately, that maybe Jesus came to be human and all that that required, aka powerlessness over His fate.

What if He didn’t come for the purpose of being crucified, but to love. What if He came to be a person who loved us through everything, knowing that that does not end well in most circumstances. Maybe He chose a time in history when the suffering He would experience for it would be the worst it could be, but maybe His plan was not the pain.

I have this image of Him bloody and bruised looking at me and saying, “It’s ok to have a hard time. I’m here. I’ve been there.” It sounds crazy, like He would care about my tiredness on a long day of moming when His was so much worse, but I don’t believe that is how He works. Jesus said to the weeping women as He was carrying His cross “Weep not for me but for yourselves and your children,” and that revolutionized how I saw Him. When He was at His worst suffering, He was thinking of our pain. He saw us too. That doesn’t mean He wasn’t in pain, or struggling, but He saw us too. He didn’t say that we had no right to be sad because His suffering was worse. He basically said, “It’s okay to cry about what you are going through too, it is awful.” ♥️

Let that sink in for a second. I know I have to.

What a beautiful and amazing friend. Can we be that to other people?

Tuesday of Holy Week: Notre Dame Still Stands

I have seen pictures now. The Church still stands. It may not technically be a miracle because it wasn’t actually burned down to the ground, and I don’t even know how bad it got, but as far as I knew, it was a total loss. In my life, it is a miracle that Notre Dame still stands. The despair I felt yesterday, at knowing I would never see it is gone. It is still there. I can still go see it one day. It may be burned in spots, but it is still there.

In the meantime:

A writer quoted scripture “Oh Death where is thy sting?” alongside the picture of the Cross and the Pieta statue shining out from the rubble, proclaiming their strength.

Another talked about how St. Francis was told to rebuild the Church, and he did, but then he found out he was supposed to rebuild the Church as a whole, not just the one building.

Even more talked about how in the Middle Ages if a Church burnt down people believed that God wanted it built again, even greater this time.

I think pretty much everyone would agree that the Catholic Church and even the world is struggling right now. It is burning. Can we take this as a hint to build it back up better than it was?

Let’s destroy the hypocrisy, anger, despair, and judgement in the Church, to build a home of love for everyone.

Let’s destroy the hurt in the world, the slavery to debt, the misery, and replace it with love for others.

Let’s destroy the despair in our own hearts and misery, and light a fire of hope and joy that burns so big the whole world can see it.

St. Paul says “They shall know you are Christians by your love.”

Make it so.

First Impressions: Pope Benedict’s Letter about the Church Scandals

Ok, if you’re reading this, remember this is my first impressions upon reading only part of the letter, I’ll write again when I actually get to read the whole thing.

I have to admit all I want to do is roll my eyes so far. Seriously, just blame the whole thing on artists and the sexual revolution. I am so tired of people blaming everything wrong on single events. The traditionalists blame pretty much everything sinful on Vatican II, the liberals blame everything on guns, the list goes on and on of people blaming the huge problems of the world on one thing. What’s even worse is that the event is usually something that was intending to change something for the better.

Let’s just assume all of Pope Benedict’s complaints about the sexual revolution and the resulting sex and violence in film are legitimate. Even if he is correct about all of them, he is still throwing everything good that came with those things out, and especially their intentions.

Goethe wrote a book called The Sorrows of Young Werther. The book was about the dangers of romanticism(a tradition of literature that was heavily influenced by emotions.) The main character ends up committing suicide because he is carried away by his emotions. The point of the book is to show how dangerous romanticism can be if it is unchecked. So what happened in the wake of it’s release? People started committing suicide dressed like Werther. That was the exact thing that Goethe was trying to avoid, but he got decried basically because of the stupid people who didn’t get the point.

Still, artists get blamed for the results of their art no matter what they were intending to do, unless of course they are squeaky clean purist didactic church movies. This is, of course, something that just infuriates me. If the Bible has to be submitted to the rules these people put forth, it would fail over and over and over and over again. There is rape, incest, violence, orgies, human sacrifice, witchcraft, pagan worship, and more. Yet, the same people who call this “The Good Book” claim that art cannot have any of these things. So the Bible can but only because it’s The Bible.(Which brings up the other part of the Pope Emeritus’ letter that infuriates me which is the condescending argument against the philosophy that “the end justifies the means.”)

This drives me crazy. The people in favor of the sexual revolution condemn the Catholic Church and the Catholic Church condemns them, but if the Catholic Church could recognize some of the good that was brought about by the sexual revolution we could build towards a compromise that would help everyone. Instead, he is throwing around blame like a small child. This will never help anyone. It is just adding to division in the world.

Now, some of my Catholic friends are probably horrified because about now they think I am saying that pornography addiction is good and we should all have orgies until the whole world is Sodom and Gomorrah. Well, ok, I love sex, but no, that is not what I am saying.

What I am saying is that I am extremely grateful for the sexual revolution. I am in the unique position of having lived so sheltered and traditional Catholic that I experienced life in the pre-sexual revolution existence and I grew up and left home and got a quick introduction into a different kind of world.

Let me tell you the changes I saw that were positive and incredibly important:

1. Women are now able to learn about and talk about sex which prevents men abusing them. (Don’t tell me this doesn’t happen because of a lack of education because it does. I saw it.)

2. People are able to discuss sex and sexuality, which means that we can enrich marriages and make them happier

3. We are now able to explore the impact of sexuality and violence on our lives in art, and considering that these two things are probably the most intense experiences of life, that is crucial to being able to express the truth of reality which is why the Bible would probably not even be able to be rated if it were made into a movie because it’s so horrifying at parts.

My point in bringing these things up, is that in vilifying those he doesn’t agree with, Pope Benedict is immediately turning off anyone who values the sexual revolution and anything resulting from it. That is not the way to heal the deep and profound wounds in the Church. “Oh it’s not our fault. It’s yours because you talk about sex.”

Are you kidding me?

It’s divisive, petty, and it belittles the problem to a degree that infuriates me.

So….yeah….now I’ll read the rest of it ASAP and get back to you about the rest. So far I am less than thrilled. Obviously.

Prayer of the publican

Dear Jesus,

I have failed you time and time again. I have lost all hope that I could be your promised one. I want to believe that you could still use me, but I don’t know how. I mess up all the time, and in ways that have such huge consequences. God, money won’t fill me, stuff won’t fill me, my craving for You to love me, my fear that you don’t will destroy me. You tell me time and time again and I lose you in the rot and fog of every day life. I’ve become greedy, and jealous, angry and bitter, lazy and God I don’t know if there is anything redeemable about me left, but at the same time I cAnt believe that I am this bad. I don’t want to give in to despair, lord, save me. Rescue me. I’m sorry. I’m sorry for everything. I’m sorry.please. I repent,8 k ow not good enough but I do. I’m trying God. Please love me. Hold me. I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. I’m so lost without you. If you hide your face from me I can’t survive. I know I am sometimes greedy and sometimes I treat you like a bank, but will you love me anyway? Will you love me in my fear? Will you love me in my u gratefulness? Will you love me when I am blessed and I don’t feel it? Will you love me when I am lost? Will you love me when I am scared? Will you love me when I feel no hope? Will you save me from the darkness?

God rescue me.

Give Like no one else: Stay at Home Moms

As many of you know, we are doing Dave Ramsey baby steps. We are working so hard, and definitely struggling at this point. What has brought me a lot of hope in our movement forward is turning every single one of my struggles into a hope for the future.

In that vein, I thought I would start talking about those things on here, and the first thing I want to talk about is a way I want to “Give like no one else.”

I was doing my taxes a while back and we didn’t qualify for the child care credit. Why? Because I am our childcare so we don’t pay for it technically. But really? We DO pay for it. We pay a LOT. We paid my entire salary from a job I actually really enjoyed(although not at that place we will talk about that later), we paid in moving from one state to another, we paid in giving up our beautiful perfect apartment because we couldn’t afford to stay there.

The thing is, every stay at home mom is also paying in so many ways, especially in our culture. She is paying in buckets of humility as everyone around her makes jabs about how she doesn’t do enough, she tries to handle the family’s finances and see her own worthlessness in the money spectrum, she may see the other moms on facebook or tv and do her best to give up the longing to feel like a cool mom.

All of this doesn’t even start to touch the moms who would give anything to be a stay at home mom, but can’t and are paying for it in baby kisses, and missed memories. It’s one thing if they are doing something they love and are missing that time in exchange for something else, but many moms are going to work because they have no choice, being treated like crap, and feeling alone and overwhelmed.

All of this to say, my give like no one else for today is the You Are Worth It Stay at Home Mom Grant.

One day, when I make ridiculous amounts of money(I’m working on it people) I am going to fund stay at home moms with as much money as I can,and if I can it will be retroactive-meaning you will be able to get the grant for work you did in the past.

When I have the money, I’m going to have someone do an official breakdown of everything being a stay at home mom is worth, and then add a love tax, and I am going to give that to them for every single year they did it. Who receives it will be based on prayer, because sometimes the ones who need the most have the hardest time asking.

That’s my promise to you-one day stay at home moms, you will get to feel your worth. One day moms will get PAPER! 😉

The Tension Between Gratitude and Desire

Lately I’ve been having a struggle that seems so stupid to me sometimes, but other times it is enough to paralyze me with anxiety. I have been struggling with being grateful for what I have when I want more. I think maybe I feel like it is inherently ungrateful to want things. The reason I feel silly about it sometimes is that some of the things I want are very normal things, but what paralyzed me is that so many people don’t have what I have; and I feel like I should just be grateful for having that.

I grew up with death as a very active piece of my consciousness. My heart would stop, and we didn’t know why; and then we knew it had to do with food but not exactly how so. Because of that I was always conscious and terrified of death. I was afraid I was going to die pretty much every second of every day. It was my reaction to anything that went wrong, and often still is. An event that actually could cause death, or a death of someone I know, can send me into a tailspin that I can’t seem to recover from for weeks, or longer.

Then, I lost Emma, and then more babies. Losing her wrecked me; like nothing I had ever experienced. My faith crumbled into anger, grief and loneliness. When I got pregnant again, I sobbed for days in terror of what I was sure was another oncoming miscarriage, and a worse one because I was further along.

When Willow survived, I was ecstatic with joy., I still feel it when I look at her, the certainty that I was going to lose her and the absolute glory of holding her.

Then there was Sage, who I feared for for different reasons. I feared her being early, more than I feared her death. This time; there was a part of me that believed she would live. Her childbirth was the successful home birth I wanted, but I feel a twinge if sadness when I think about it because it still wasn’t what I expected.

I struggle with that. I feel like I should be so grateful I had such a great childbirth, and I healed from what happened with Willow and Sage was so healthy. It feels blasphemous almost to grieve the parts I struggled with in the face of what could have been.

I think that’s why I hate the cliche mom phrases about children in Africa not having whatever you are upset about having, or the first world problem jokes, because I am all too aware of how lucky I am to be holding these precious people in my life. I have no right to complain or grieve anything else I may be upset about.

At the same time, I believe that God gives us our desires for a reason, and that He wants to fill them and give them abundance. It is a struggle for me to balance that belief with knowing just how much I’ve been given. I think sometimes I am not grateful enough; and other times I think that I am so grateful it hurts.

There are moments when I hold one of the babies and my entire body feels like it will explode in gratitude for them, other times they both pull on me at once and I want to scream, but I also shudder under powerful guilt for feeling that way.

Now, there are several things I am waiting on that I desire powerfully and all-consumingly, and I am so angry at myself for that sometimes because I feel like I should just be content, but at the same time I keep reminding myself my desires are normal and valid.

All I can do is pray that God sees my prayers of gratitude amidst my tears of desire.

Maybe today pray:

God I give you thanks for everything I have, hear me thanking you even when I cry out in the struggle.

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